A barred spiral galaxy about 61 million light-years away in the constellation Eridanus. The galaxy is about 110,000 light-years across; just slightly larger than our own galaxy, the Milky Way. It is a member of the Eridanus Cluster, a cluster of 200 galaxies. [**]
Explanation: What will survive this battle of the galaxies? Known as Seyfert’s Sextet, this intriguing group of galaxies lies in the head portion of the split constellation of the Snake (Serpens). The sextet actually contains only four interacting galaxies, though. Near the center of this Hubble Space Telescope picture, the small face-on spiral galaxy lies in the distant background and appears only by chance aligned with the main group. Also, the prominent condensation on the upper left is likely not a separate galaxy at all, but atidal tail of stars flung out by the galaxies’ gravitational interactions. About 190 million light-years away, the interacting galaxies are tightly packed into a region around 100,000 light-years across, comparable to the size of our own Milky Way galaxy, making this one of the densest known galaxy groups. Bound by gravity, the close-knit group may coalesce into a single large galaxy over the next few billion years.
Arp 286: Trio in Virgo A remarkable telescopic composition in yellow and blue, this scene features a trio of interacting galaxies almost 90 million light-years away, toward the constellation Virgo. On the left, two, spiky, foreground Milky Way stars echo the trio galaxy hues, a reminder that stars in our own galaxy are like those in the distant island universes. Predominately yellow, with sweeping spiral arms and dust lanes, NGC 5566 is enormous, about 150,000 light-years across. Just below it lies small, blue NGC 5569. Near center, the third galaxy, NGC 5560, is multicolored and apparently stretched and distorted by its interaction with NGC 5566. The galaxy trio is also included in Halton Arp’s 1966 Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies as Arp 286. Of course, such cosmic interactions are now appreciated as a common part of the evolution of galaxies.
Centaurus A —New Insight to an Odd and Massive Elliptical Galaxy
Centaurus A, also known as NGC 5128, is a peculiar massive elliptical galaxy with a supermassive black hole at its heart. It lies about 12 million light-years away in the southern constellation of Centaurus (The Centaur) and has the distinction of being the most prominent radio galaxy in the sky.
The Tadpole Galaxy (also known as UGC 10214) is a spiral galaxy that has been violently disrupted by a collision with a smaller companion galaxy. Strong gravitational forces from the interaction between the galaxies created the long tail of debris, which is made up of stars and gas that stretch out more than 280,000 light years. Hundreds of blue stars and star clusters are visible in the spiral arms of the galaxy and in the tidal debris tail. The galaxy is backdropped by thousands of background galaxies. The Tadpole Galaxy is located some 420 million light years away toward the constellation Draco.
Makes good sense to revere the sun and stars because we are their children. The silicon in the rocks, the oxygen in the air, the carbon in our DNA, the iron in our skyscrapers, the silver in our jewelry were all made in stars billions of years ago. Our planet, our society, and we ourselves are stardust.
This image shows galaxy NGC 4485 in the constellation of Canes Venatici (The Hunting Dogs). The galaxy is irregular in shape, but it hasn’t always been so. Part of NGC 4485 has been dragged towards a second galaxy, named NGC 4490 — which lies out of frame to the bottom right of this image.
Between them, these two galaxies make up a galaxy pair called Arp 269. Their interactions have warped them both, turning them from spiral galaxies into irregular ones. NGC 4485 is the smaller galaxy in this pair, which provides a fantastic real-world example for astronomers to compare to their computer models of galactic collisions. The most intense interaction between these two galaxies is all but over; they have made their closest approach and are now separating. The trail of bright stars and knotty orange clumps that we see here extending out from NGC 4485 is all that connects them — a trail that spans some 24 000 light-years.
Many of the stars in this connecting trail could never have existed without the galaxies’ fleeting romance. When galaxies interact hydrogen gas is shared between them, triggering intense bursts of star formation. The orange knots of light in this image are examples of such regions, clouded with gas and dust.
A version of this image was entered into the Hubble’s Hidden Treasures image processing competition by contestant Kathy van Pelt, and won sixth prize in the “basic image searching” category.
Spiral Galaxy NGC 5033 Magnificent island universe NGC 5033 lies some 40 million light-years away in the well-trained northern constellation Canes Venatici. This telescopic portrait reveals striking details of dust lanes winding near the galaxy’s bright core and majestic but relatively faint spiral arms. Speckled with pink star forming regions and massive blue star clusters, the arms span over 100,000 light-years, similar in size to our own spiral Milky Way. A well-studied example of the class of Seyfert active galaxies, NGC 5033 has a core that is very bright and variable. The emission is likely powered by a supermassive black hole. The bright nucleus and rotational center of the galaxy also seem to be slightly offset, suggesting NGC 5033 is the result of an ancient galaxy merger.
Image Credit & Copyright: Adam Block, Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter, University of Arizona
Explanation: Big, bright, and beautiful, spiral galaxy M83 lies a mere twelve million light-years away, near the southeastern tip of the very long constellation Hydra. This deep view of the gorgeous island universe includes observations from Hubble, along with ground based data from the European Southern Observatory’s very large telescope units, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan’s Subaru telescope, and Australian Astronomical Observatory photographic data by D. Malin. About 40,000 light-years across, M83 is popularly known as the Southern Pinwheel for its pronounced spiral arms. But the wealth of reddish star forming regions found near the edges of the arms’ thick dust lanes, also suggest another popular moniker for M83, the Thousand-Ruby Galaxy. Arcing near the top of the novel cosmic portrait lies M83’s northern stellar tidal stream, debris from the gravitational disruption of a smaller, merging satellite galaxy. The faint, elusive star stream was found in the mid 1990s by enhancing photographic plates.
The size and age of the Cosmos are beyond ordinary human understanding. Lost somewhere between immensity and eternity is our tiny planetary home. In a cosmic perspective, most human concerns seem insignificant, even petty. And yet our species is young and curious and brave and shows much promise. In the last few millennia we have made the most astonishing and unexpected discoveries about the Cosmos and our place within it, explorations that are exhilarating to consider. They remind us that humans have evolved to wonder, that understanding is a joy, that knowledge is prerequisite to survival. I believe our future depends on how well we know this Cosmos in which we float like a mote of dust in the morning sky.
IC 2574: Coddington’s Nebula Dwarf galaxy IC 2574 shows clear evidence of intense star forming activity in its telltale pinkish regions of glowing hydrogen gas. Just as in spiral galaxies, the turbulent star-forming regions in IC 2574 are churned by stellar winds and supernova explosions spewing material into the galaxy’s interstellar medium and triggering further star formation. A mere 12 million light-years distant, IC 2574 is part of the M81 group of galaxies, seen toward the northern constellation Ursa Major. Also known as Coddington’s Nebula, the lovely island universe is about 50,000 light-years across, discovered by American astronomer Edwin Coddington in 1898.
This image of 30 Doradus, the Tarantula Nebula, in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) was taken with the Curtis Schmidt telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) in Chile, as part of the Magellanic Cloud Emission Line Survey (MCELS) project. The Tarantula Nebula is a giant star-forming region, where energy from hot, young stars in the region creates dramatic voids and filaments in the surrounding gas. Located 160,000 light-years distant in the southern constellation Dorado, the LMC is considered the closest large galaxy to Earth. Because of the proximity and low foreground absorption of the LMC, it is an ideal laboratory both for studies of individual HII regions, supernova remnants, and superbubbles, and for investigations of global properties using samples of these objects. MCELS is designed to provide uniform datasets in optical emission lines that are necessary to conduct this research. The MCELS observations toward the 30 Doradus region have been used to investigate the physical properties of the HII region, examine the physical conditions of supernova remnants in the field, and study the large-scale structure of the ionized gas. This color image was produced using three separate exposures taken in hydrogen (red), sulfur (green), and oxygen (blue) filters. Caption: NOAO. Please read Conditions of Use before downloading. S. POINTS, C. SMITH, R. LEITON, C. AGUILERA AND NOAO/AURA/NSF